Everything You Need to Know About Experiential Marketing

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Audience attention is one of the most valuable commodities in 2019. The companies that can attract and keep it, find success. The ones that can’t? Well, they don’t tend to last very long. That’s why experiential marketing has become so popular lately!

In this article, we’ll explain what experiential marketing is, five best practices to help you find success with this strategy, and three amazing experiential marketing examples you can learn and draw inspiration from.

What is Experiential Marketing?

According to Wikipedia, experiential marketing, also known as engagement marketing, is:

“A marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience.”

In other words, experiential marketing is when a business allows its target audience to interact with it in a real-life scenario. That way said business can show consumers what it stands for, not just what it offers for sale.

This type of marketing strategy has been picking up steam lately and it’s proving to be quite successful — 65% of brands that use it report a bump in sales. This is because experiential marketing humanizes brands and enables them to give their audiences unique experiences that they can’t help but share with their family and friends.

If this sounds like a marketing strategy you’d like to use for your own company, keep reading! In the next section we’ll look at a few experiential marketing best practices.

Experiential Marketing Best Practices

Experiential marketing sounds great, right? But before you dive in and plan your first brand experience, take a look at these five best practices.

1. Put Your Audience First — Always!

Your experiential marketing efforts will only be successful if you take your unique audience into account and plan experiences that you know they will enjoy.

In 2015, Google put together and experiential marketing campaign to promote its new photo app. The tech company set up a food truck in Austin, TX and gave away free cupcakes to anyone who shared a picture with said app.

This is a fantastic experiential marketing idea! But if your company’s audience is extremely health conscious or allergic to sugar, you wouldn’t want to run this type of campaign. This is what we’re talking about when we say “put your audience first.”

When you know and understand the people you’re trying to reach, you can give them experiences they’ll both enjoy and remember forever.

2. Set Goals and Measure Results

Before you actually host your experiential marketing initiative, make sure you have specific goals in place and a way to measure them.

You could, for example, attempt to hand out 1,000 samples of your new product, host 300 people or more at your event, place 100 new names on your company’s email list, or convince 50 people to use your branded hashtag on Instagram or Twitter.

Once your goal(s) is chosen, figure out a way to measure it. That way you can easily tell how effective your experiential marketing efforts were and you can learn how to improve your campaigns for the future.

3. Don’t Sell, Tell a Story

Storytelling is powerful and brands that do it well tend to find much more success than those that simply attempt to push product. As it so happens, experiential marketing campaigns are the perfect place to tell stories!

But how can your brand embrace storytelling? We have a couple of ideas:

  • Share Benefits: When talking about your company’s products, don’t list features, share benefits. For example, instead of telling folks that your new social media marketing software integrates with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (a feature), talk about how your customers save so much time because they can access each platform at once.
  • Display Your Company’s Personality: Your brand’s personality is part of its story — don’t be afraid to show it to your audience. Have fun and be a little weird or quirky if that fits. This will draw your audience in.

Follow these two tips and you’ll be able to tell engaging stories that your audience will instantly connect with.

4. Maximize Online Engagement

Experiential marketing is all about in-person interactions. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about online engagement entirely. In fact, your brand’s online presence should always be at the forefront of your mind during your engagement marketing event.

So incorporate your website, blog, and social media sites into your experiences. This will give your company a much greater reach.

Something as simple as creating a branded hashtag and asking event attendees to use it can really benefit your company and boost brand recognition on a large scale.

5. Understand Why Experiential Marketing Works

Finally, never forget why experiential marketing works: because it creates emotions and stirs the senses. These things, in turn, will encourage your target audience to think positively about your organization and bond them to it.

By putting your audience first, telling great stories, and utilizing the online tools at your disposal, you’ll be able to take full advantage of experiential marketing!

3 Amazing Experiential Marketing Examples

So what does an amazing experiential marketing campaign look like? The three initiatives below are incredible examples of how to use this promotional strategy.

1. Piano Staircase Initiative | Volkswagen

Volkswagen has understood the power of experiential marketing for a long time, as evidenced by this initiative which took place way back in 2009.

When no one was looking, the Volkswagen team turned a random subway staircase in Stockholm, Sweden into a piano. Every step was a different key and produced a different sound. They then caught the whole thing on camera.

The result? 66% more people took the stairs than the escalator next to them — a dramatic change from before the piano stairs were installed. The video was Volkswagen created was also shared on social media and garnered them a lot of press.

2. Guinness Class | Guinness

Guinness Class was an experiential marketing campaign that saw Guinness employees, dressed up in Guinness-branded flight attendant uniforms, visiting bars across the U.K. and giving their customers a chance to win amazing prizes.

Prizes included free keychains, passport cases, and other fun doodads. But one lucky person won the grand prize: A private jet ride to Dublin, Ireland for himself and four friends.

3. Stratos | Red Bull

Let us take you back to October 14th, 2012 — the day the world record for the highest skydive ever was set. Do you remember the buzz? Over eight million people tuned in to see the live broadcast as Austrian Skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, dove 24 miles and made history.

The entire event was sponsored by Red Bull and was named the “Stratos” jump. It’s an amazing example of unforgettable experiential marketing.

Wrapping Up

Experiential marketing provides an amazing opportunity for your organization. As the online space gets more crowded and consumers become more wary of brands and their advertising efforts, real-life experiences and engagements will only get more vital.

Now you know how to pull off an amazing experiential marketing campaign. Just remember the best practices we covered in this article:

  1. Put Your Audience First — Always!
  2. Set Goals and Measure Results
  3. Don’t Sell, Tell a Story
  4. Maximize Online Engagement
  5. Understand Why Experiential Marketing Works

Follow these tips and you’ll be able to create amazing experiences for your unique audience. Good luck!

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